With the re-signing of Dont’a Hightower, along with the other significant free agency moves the Patriots have made over the past two weeks, the 2017 team is starting to round into form. There’s still a big question mark surrounding Malcolm Butler and, to a lesser extent, Jimmy Garoppolo, but it would appear that outside of those two most of the heavy lifting this offseason is close to done.
What we know? The offense looks ready to evolve once again with the addition of Brandin Cooks. He’ll bring a whole new level of explosiveness and if Rob Gronkowski can return to form and everyone stays healthy, who knows what the ceiling is for this offense.
Defensively, the Pats swapped Logan Ryan for Stephon Gilmore and Jabaal Sheard/Chris Long for Kony Ealy. On paper those moves look like they made the Patriots better. There are still depth questions at linebacker and defensive end, but those should be manageable. If Malcolm Butler returns it’s not crazy to think this defense will be even better than last year’s that led the league in points against.
What holes do the Patriots still have? Whose contracts could be extended or released? There’s still plenty of moves to come, and with the Pats currently having no draft picks before the third round, there’s a good chance they’ll look to round out their picks so they can still grab some impact rookies.
Here’s what I see as the priorities going forward with the rest of free agency and the draft.